WASHINGTON (CNN) – Just days after President Obama announced his comprehensive plan for the next phase of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, a senior diplomat in the new administration sought to put to rest any comparison between Afghanistan and Vietnam wars.
Watch: Obama's 'Af-Pak' strategy
“I served in Vietnam for three and a half years and I’m aware of certain structural similarities,” Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King Sunday.
“But there’s a fundamental difference - the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese never posed any direct threat to the United States and its homeland. The people we are fighting in Afghanistan and the people they are sheltering in Western Pakistan, pose a direct threat. Those are the men of 9-11, the people who killed Benazir Bhutto and you can be sure that as we sit here today, they are planning further attacks on the United States and our allies.”
Holbrooke was responding to concerns raised by some Democrats that the President’s decision to send more troops into Afghanistan opens up the possibility of an extended and ultimately unsuccessful military mission there comparable to the failed U.S. involvement in Vietnam decades ago.
Obama recently announced his plan for dealing with Afghanistan that includes more troops and more civilian aid. The president’s plan to inject more resources into the embattled country comes as polling suggests the American public is becoming wary of the war there.
Holbrooke appeared Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union with Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. CENTCOM Commander, to discuss U.S. strategy in the Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East.